Effect of Chest Computed Tomography Kernel Use on Emphysema Score in Severe Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Patients Evaluated for Lung Volume Reduction

Jens T. Bakker*, Karin Klooster, Hendrik Joost Wisselink, Gert Jan Pelgrim, Rozemarijn Vliegenthart, Dirk-Jan Slebos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

62 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Chest computed tomography (CT) emphysema quantification is a vital diagnostic tool in patient evaluation for bronchoscopic lung volume reduction (BLVR). Smooth kernels for CT image reconstruction are generally recommended for quantitative analyses. This recommendation is not always followed, which may affect quantification of emphysema extent and eventually, treatment decisions. Objective: The main goal is to demonstrate the influence of CT reconstruction kernels on emphysema quantification in patients with severe COPD, considered for BLVR. Methods: Chest CT scans were acquired with one multi-detector CT system and reconstructed using three different kernels: smooth, medium smooth, and sharp. Other parameters were kept constant. Emphysema scores (ESs), meaning the percentage of voxels below-950 Hounsfield units, were calculated and compared to the smooth reference kernel using paired t tests. Bland-Altman plots were made to assess the biases and limits of agreement between kernels. Results: Ninety-eight COPD patient CT scans were analyzed. The sharp kernel had a systematic bias of 6.2% and limits of agreement of 16.6% to-4.2% compared to the smooth kernel. The medium smooth kernel had a systematic bias of 5.7% and limits of agreement of 9.2% and 2.2% compared to the smooth kernel. The ES differed, for a single patient, up to 18% for different kernels. Conclusions: Chest CT kernel reconstruction can lead to a significant difference in emphysema severity quantification. This may cause invalid treatment selection in COPD patients evaluated for BLVR. Standardization of a smooth CT kernel setting and/or normalization to a standard kernel is strongly recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-171
Number of pages8
Issue number2
Early online date21-Dec-2022
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2023


  • Chest computed tomography
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Emphysema
  • Kernel
  • Lung volume reduction

Cite this